The irradiation of certain food products preserves food and kills insects, parasites, and bacteria that can cause disease. During irradiation, food is exposed to a source of energy that can strip electrons from individual atoms in a specific material (ionizing radiation). In the U.S., the FDA has approved using irradiation for fruits, vegetables, pork, poultry, red meat, and spices. More than 5,000 Americans die every year from food-borne illnesses, and over 76 million are affected by these diseases. In 2008, the FDA approved irradiation of iceberg lettuce and spinach to protect people from bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. In conclusion, irradiation is used in agriculture to protect people from food-borne disease and to preserve food so that it will not spoil as quickly.

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